Board a tour boat and venture out off the coast of Virginia Beach in search of winter wildlife. With several excursions launching throughout the week, it’s easy to catch a ride to the
After a brisk day on the water, the warm welcome of a comfortable hotel is just right. Accommodations in Virginia Beach give you plenty of options.
Excitement doesn't hibernate in Virginia Beach. Explore the best of Virginia Beach Winter Fun to add to this season's itinerary.
Dive into "The Daily Life" for an up-close-and-personal glimpse into our culture and see how we live the life year-round.
Go inside the habitat of Virginia Aquarium's harbor seals to get an up-close view. Observe the animal care staff as they conduct a behavioral training session and learn about seal biology and conservation efforts.
This is your chance to witness winter wildlife all around Virginia Beach. The Winter Wildlife Festival takes place January 29th through the 31st.
Get a taste of local flavor.
Check out the Beach Report to see what is happening at the beach with up-to-date weather and a live beach cam.
When there’s a chill in the air, there just might be a thrill in the water. As great Atlantic cetaceans make their yearly migrations, they can be seen just off our coast – and often lingering to take advantage of our food-rich waters. Every winter, the promise of a sighting makes for some sweet anticipation, and recently the whales have been playing to satisfied onlookers.
Set sail with one of the boat trip operators for an excursion off the coast of Virginia Beach in search of winter wildlife, and you never know what you might encounter. Maybe three humpbacks breezing by. A large group of dolphins coasting along. An elusive fin whale allowing itself to be viewed. A humpback making a show of its bubble netting as it feeds, another breaching to the oohs and ahhs of a thrilled crowd. From your boat, you’ll have a chance to get close to some of nature’s most wondrous and awe-inspiring creatures, and learn what brings them to Virginia Beach waters.
Take advantage of cool season adventure by customizing your own getaway around a Winter Wildlife Boat Trip. Take your pick of hotels offering special whale watching packages and get in on all the fun before it’s over – our whale friends won’t be hanging around forever!
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Celebrate all summer long with oceanfront fireworks!
Grab some sun and suds at a local craft brewery.
All the thrills without having to leap out of a plane.
The trail to high-flying fun follows the treetops.
Customize and send your very own Virginia Beach E-postcard.
Go behind the scenes with seals, sea turtles and sharks for a life experience like no other.
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When you embark on a
Winter Wildlife Boat Trip in Virginia Beach, you're
entering an offshore world that's home to an exclusive crowd:
migrating species of birds and marine mammals enjoying our
food-rich waters. While you may encounter whales or harbor seals as
they peek out from the ocean, it's the interesting behaviors of our
winter waterfowl visitors that are sure to give you a thrill. So
bundle up and get ready to witness a sky full of winter
Flying in V-formation low above the water offers winter wildfowl a, ahem, birds-eye view of what's for dinner. Small groups of the huge and stocky brown pelican fly in fairly well organized lines, propelled by the slow deep beats of their broad wings. Maybe less elegant in motion but just as thrilling to see are the double-crested cormorants and great cormorants who winter in Virginia Beach. With heavy bodies, small heads, an S-shaped neck and wide wingspan, they fly with labored wing beats creating irregular shaped lines.
Once they spot their prey, winter waterfowl really make a splash going after it. You'll spy the plunge diving feeding behavior of a number of species who feast on schools of fish in Virginia Beach waters. While many species dive alone, northern gannets often plunge dive as a flock, with hundreds of birds diving from up to 130 feet in the air, diving to depths as deep as 72 feet and swimming for fish.
In Virginia Beach, you can see the brown pelican put on a spectacular show, diving headfirst from as far as 65 feet above the water, tucking its head and rotating its body to be able to withstand the impact. Hitting the surface with a splash so big you might mistake it for a whale spout, the brown pelican's throat pouch expands and fills with up to 2.6 gallons of water to take in small schooling fish near the surface. You're seeing something truly rare - the brown pelican and the Peruvian pelican are the only pelican species to perform headfirst dives.
Once it's taken in a couple of gallons of fish and ocean water, the brown pelican pauses on the surface to allow water to drain from its pouch before finishing its meal. Look for smaller birds to swoop in and take care of the leftovers. Gulls can even be seen trying to steal the fish right out of the pelican's pouch.
Look closely, and you may spy a sea gull that's anything but common. With a distinctive yellow bill with red and black rings at the tip, the black-tailed gull is a rare visitor to Virginia Beach from East Asia. Its white head, gray back and wing-tops along with a prominent dark band just above the white tail tip distinguish the black-tailed gull from its more familiar gull cousins. Another rare but regular visitor to Virginia Beach is the little gull, the smallest gull species in the world and common across Eurasia. You'll know it by its pale gray back and wings with white wingtips.
Sometimes after a big meal, all you want to do is chill. After diving for fish, the double-crested cormorant is sometimes seen perched on a piling or other structure, standing in the sun with its wings spread wide. It's not just showing off its gangly, pterodactyl-looking wingspan; because the cormorant's feathers have less preen oil than other birds and don't shed water easily, it's hanging out to dry off in the sun.
Just like you, visiting winter wildfowl are drawn to Virginia
Beach to socialize and find sustenance. You won't see many of these
species inland, and you won't see them here all year-round.
Migration brings visiting species close to our shores from late
fall to late winter, so catch them while you can. Two tour
Winter Wildlife Boat Trips in Virginia Beach, helmed by
experienced wildlife seekers to deliver a thrilling ocean
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